Portal – Chapter 5

Michael stood up as his court appointed lawyer walked over to him carrying a hard shelled briefcase. Michael towered over the balding Jewish man with circular rimmed glasses. His blue pin striped suit, while not new, was obviously freshly dry cleaned and cost more money than Michael had made in a week. Michael did not envy the man. He was actually encouraged by it. Any lawyer that could dress this nicely obviously had enough money and brains to win a lot of cases.

Eugene Stein a was seasoned public defender that was in the Enhanced defense pool of lawyers. Public defense lawyers for Enhanced clients was not a common occurrence. Many lawyers shied away from Enhanced law due to the increased pressure of defending a person that could easily kill you, some with a mere thought, if you fail. Others knew the cards were already stacked  against them. Enhanced law fell under Federal jurisdiction so the defendants were fighting in the JTF’s playground. The Federal prosecutors were often rising stars, looking to make the jump from the courtroom to Capitol Hill. Federal Enhanced judges were some of the sharpest minds on the planet and did not tolerate any deviation from their carefully planned proceedings. Most of them also had friends on Capitol Hill, which is how they got nominated and confirmed, that were the former Federal Enhanced prosecutors. But for some lawyers, like Eugene Stein, that made the challenge worth it.

Michael and Eugene sat at the defendants table at precisely 9 am. The prosecutor was already at her desk flipping through a large manila folder. Her dark brown suit jacket and skirt would not win any beauty contests but Michael only gave her clothes a quick glance. He guessed she was in her thirties and thought she was very attractive with the short dirty blonde hair swooped to the side. Those thoughts disappeared when he remembered that she wanted to put him in jail for a very long time.

“All rise,” called the bailiff, an elderly man that reminded Michael of his grandfather. As he stood with Eugene, he noticed the four JTF security officers along the side of the courtroom and a young woman with black hair in a pixie cut sitting in the gallery. She was the only person in the gallery, surrounded by empty dark wooden benches. She wore a short  black cape over a black jumpsuit that contrasted with her pale skin. She must be the Enhanced that belonged to this group of JTF agents. Michael wondered what her power might be.

I can slam you against the ceiling as my boys take turns using you for target practice, Michael heard in his head. His eyes grew wide and looked back at the smiling woman.

As Michael turned around and looked forward again, he noticed the judge and bailiff staring at him. He glanced to his left and right, both lawyers were already seated. The prosecutor was shaking her head slowly. Michael could feel Eugene tugging on his pant leg discreetly under the table.

“Michael, sit down,” he said quietly.

As Michael grabbed his simple wooden chair and sat down. The judge was a black man, probably in his mid 50s with a closely shaven beard and military tight haircut. Nothing appeared out of place with this man and nobody disobeyed his deep baritone voice.

“Son,” began the judge, “you are already in a whole heap of trouble. Do yourself a favor and stay focused on the reason we are here and not on the young lady back there.” The judge looked up from Michael to the black haired woman. “Bailiff, please escort the JTF agent out of my courtroom. We don’t need her using telepathy with the defendant and disrupting my courtroom.”

As the Enhaced agent stood up, the scowl on her face required no telepathic powers to interpret. The four mundane JTF agents were professionals and remained stationary.

“And Miss,” the judge added as she walked to the door, “your body language gives you away when you use your power. You might want to work on that.”

As the bailiff closed the door and returned to his station at the front of the courtroom, Michael glimpsed at the judge’s nameplate, Hon. Ronald D Thompson. He liked his executioner. In Enhanced court, the judge was also the jury. There was no jury, only a bench decision decided the defendant’s fate.

“Now,” stated the judge plainly, “Madame prosecutor, your opening statements.”